Two Boston ferries collide in heavy fog

Damage to the ferry Massachusetts included a smashed window on the starboard side. The other ferry sustained relatively minor damage. (Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

Two commuter ferries collided in the fog about one mile from the Long Island Bridge in Boston Harbor July 10 at about 0730.

The ferries, the 101-foot Laura and the 88-foot Massachusetts, both sustained serious damage above the waterline but did not take on any water.

Massachusetts, with 151 people aboard, was inbound to Rowes Wharf, Boston, from Hingham, Mass., and Laura was outbound from Boston Harbor with four people aboard. The vessels were trying to pass each other when the accident occurred.

Massachusetts sustained damage to its starboard bow and its starboard bow window was destroyed. Laura received damage to its bow.

The Coast Guard was on the scene with two 25-foot rescue boats within minutes of receiving a cell phone call from a passenger aboard Massachusetts, Paula Marcangelo. She is an employee at the Coast Guard First District in Boston and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. After the collision Marcangelo identified herself to other passengers as a Coast Guard employee and began handing out life jackets and calming the other passengers.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Downs said the Coast Guard is investigating the part fog may have played in the collision. Investigators are also following up on witness claims that a third boat, an unidentified recreational vessel, was nearby at the time of the collision. Downs said it was still unclear whether the third vessel played any part in the accident.

Both ferries were equipped with radar. Downs could not say whether they were in radio contact before the collusion.

Following the accident, Massachusetts continued on to Rowes Wharf and Laura proceeded to Marine Pier One in Charlestown, Mass.

Laura is owned by Boston Harbor Cruises and Massachusetts is owned by Massachusetts Bay Lines. Both operate under contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority providing commuter service between Hingham and Rowes Wharf in downtown Boston.

Damage to Laura was estimated to be about $10,000. The vessel has been repaired and is back in service. Damage to Massachusetts was put at $70,000. The ferry was back in service in August.

By Professional Mariner Staff